Elec­tronic col­la­tion, trans­mis­sion of re­sults pos­si­ble in 2023 – INEC

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Fri­day Olokor, Abuja

The In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion on Mon­day ex­pressed op­ti­mism that elec­tronic col­la­tion and trans­mis­sion of re­sults would be achieved for the 2023 elec­tion.

INEC’S Na­tional Com­mis­sioner and Chair­man of its In­for­ma­tion and Voter Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, Fes­tus Okoye, dis­closed this dur­ing a na­tional stake­hold­ers’ fo­rum on elec­tions held in Abuja.

The event was or­gan­ised by the con­vener of Nige­ria Civil So­ci­ety Sit­u­a­tion Room and Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor, Pol­icy and Le­gal Ad­vo­cacy Cen­tre, Cle­ment Nwankwo, with sup­port from the United King­dom Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment.

At the event, the At­tor­ney­gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion, Abubakar Malami (SAN), rep­re­sented by his Spe­cial As­sis­tant (Ethics and Jus­tice), Juliet Ibekaku: and the Deputy Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Ovie Omoagege, gave un­der­tak­ings that the gov­ern­ment would en­sure early pas­sage of the amend­ments to the Elec­toral Act and the Elec­tion Of­fences Com­mis­sion Bill into law.

Okoye said the com­mis­sion was com­mit­ted to the en­hance­ment of the power of the Smart Card Read­ers as the dom­i­nant pro­ce­dure for ver­i­fi­ca­tion, ac­cred­i­ta­tion and prov­ing over vot­ing in the elec­toral process.

Ac­cord­ing to him, INEC would seek the in­cor­po­ra­tion of the Smart Card Read­ers in Sec­tion 49 of the Elec­toral Act, 2010 (as amended).

he said, “We be­lieve that elec­tronic col­la­tion and trans­mis­sion of re­sults are pos­si­ble and achiev­able in the 2023 elec­tion. The com­mis­sion will con­tinue to im­prove the elec­toral sys­tem through the adop­tion of new elec­tion tech­nolo­gies where fea­si­ble and rel­e­vant, and will, in all cases, ex­am­ine the vi­a­bil­ity and rel­e­vance of such tech­nolo­gies be­fore adop­tion.

“To­wards these, the le­gal frame­work for the adop­tion of such tech­nolo­gies would be the first most im­por­tant step be­fore any other steps. We ac­knowl­edge the in­tro­duc­tion of a bill to es­tab­lish an Elec­tion Of­fences Com­mis­sion and Tri­bunal and state un­equiv­o­cally that we sup­port it.

“Our coun­try must break the cy­cle of im­punity in the elec­toral process and bring to jus­tice the vi­o­la­tors of the sov­er­eign right of the peo­ple to clean elec­tions.”

Okoye also re­sponded to the con­cerns raised by Omoagege over the fre­quent is­suance and with­drawal of cer­tifi­cates of re­turn by INEC while obey­ing court rul­ing on pre-elec­tion mat­ters, say­ing that the com­mis­sion’s hands were tied by the law.

he said INEC would con­tinue to obey court or­ders in such in­stances, un­less there was an amend­ment to the Act to the con­trary.

While declar­ing the event open, Omo-agege ac­knowl­edged that some as­pects of the elec­toral law were de­fi­cient and re­quired re­tool­ing to bring about the de­sired im­prove­ment in the con­duct of elec­tions in Nige­ria.

he said part of the prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with the elec­tions in the coun­try was be­cause some of the guide­lines be­ing im­ple­mented by INEC were not backed by ex­tant laws and as such were be­ing flouted by politi­cians.

“It is for these rea­sons and much more that we are com­ing up with very clear pro­vi­sions amend­ing the prin­ci­pal Act to give un­am­bigu­ous ef­fect to elec­toral guide­lines, reg­u­la­tions and man­u­als duly is­sued by the com­mis­sion in strict com­pli­ance with Sec­tion 160 of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion(as amended),” Omo-agege said.

While fault­ing the use of univer­sity teach­ers as re­turn­ing of­fi­cers in elec­tions, he claimed that they have not ex­hib­ited the re­quired hon­esty and in­tegrity in the elec­toral process.

he said the Na­tional As­sem­bly had pro­posed the en­act­ment of law to im­pose a jail term of 20 years for ad hoc staff in­volved in mal­prac­tices dur­ing the elec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to him, there was need to pro­pose fur­ther sanc­tions against INEC work­ers that al­lowed them­selves to be used to per­pe­trate elec­toral mal­prac­tice.

With the laws in place, Omoagege said non-com­pli­ance with INEC guide­lines, reg­u­la­tions and man­u­als would carry “clear con­se­quences for peo­ple who think that vi­o­lat­ing elec­toral due process is a re­ward­ing ex­er­cise.”

he listed other pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments to in­clude pro­vi­sions fo­cus­ing on re­solv­ing is­sues sur­round­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of mod­ern tech­nolo­gies into the elec­toral process, par­tic­u­larly ac­cred­i­ta­tion of vot­ers and en­sur­ing that the Act clearly for­bids mem­bers of po­lit­i­cal par­ties from tak­ing up em­ploy­ment in INEC.

Malami said the Fed­eral

Gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing an early pas­sage of the amend­ments to the Elec­toral Act and the Elec­tion Of­fences Com­mis­sion Bill into law.

Theagf­saidthe­gov­ern­ment had set up the Con­sti­tu­tion and Elec­toral Re­form Com­mit­tee in 2016 to re­view the laws gov­ern­ing the elec­toral process and also took steps to ac­tu­alise rec­om­men­da­tions prof­fered by the com­mit­tee, be­gin­ning with the ap­proval of the rec­om­men­da­tions of the com­mit­tee by the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil and sub­se­quent trans­mis­sion to the leg­is­la­ture.

Malami how­ever said the amend­ments rec­om­mended by the com­mit­tee fell short of the ex­pec­ta­tions of ma­jor­ity of Nige­ri­ans, and thus, was not passed into law.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion is al­ready work­ing with the 9th Na­tional As­sem­bly with a view to en­sur­ing an early pas­sage of the amend­ments to the Elec­toral Act and the Elec­tion Of­fences Com­mis­sion Bill into law.

“The Ex­ec­u­tive is com­mit­ted to work­ing har­mo­niously with the Na­tional As­sem­bly through con­tin­u­ous en­gage­ment and sys­tem­atic co­or­di­na­tion in the pas­sage of bills,” he said.

•Yakubu

•L-R: Deputy Manag­ing Direc­tor,tiamin Rice, Al­haji Aliyu Ibrahim; Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, Al­haji Sabo Nanono; Min­is­ter of In­for­ma­tion and Cul­ture, Al­haji Lai Mo­hammed; and As­sis­tant Comp­trol­ler Gen­eral, Nige­ria Cus­toms Ser­vice, Mr Bashir Abubakar, dur­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion visit to the rice mill to as­cer­tain the im­pact of the bor­der clo­sure on rice pro­duc­tion in Kano ...on Fri­day. Photo: Olatunji Obasa

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